I hope this finds you all in good health.  It’s been quite some time since I’ve posted. Happy belated New Year and early Spring!  

January 2017 marked 8 years since I went into remission from Papillary Thyroid Cancer. It changed the course of my life in many ways. 

When I was diagnosed with cancer I searched for information and could hardly find anything. It was one of the reasons I started this blog. I also wanted to share my journey and connect with other cancer survivors. It is comforting and healing to have other people to relate to when cancer comes into the picture. I also learned that cancer is cancer regardless of what “type” you have. We all go through a range of feelings and can lean on one another to get to the other side. 

For me, the biggest change through this journey was internally. Being diagnosed with cancer brought me closer to my Higher Power and gave me the chance to do some soul searching. I discovered how much it feeds my spirit to help others. 

With my new found courage, I became open to other career options that gave me a chance to fulfill my passion. I discovered coaching. It sounded like it was right up my alley. So I started the process to become a certified Life & Business Coach. I began working with clients in 2009 and got my ACC designation from the ICF in 2012. And I’ve been doing it ever since!

The fear and uncertainty of cancer pushed me beyond my comfort zone. When I’m faced with a challenge, I remind myself of this experience. It gives me motivation to overcome what comes my way. I am grateful for the experience. 

HOW HAS CANCER CHANGED YOU AND YOUR LIFE? 

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I went to the dentist yesterday for a routine check up and cleaning.  (I’m happy to report that I have no cavities!)  As the days got closer to my appointment, I found myself thinking about the dental x-rays and wondering about radiation exposure.  As a cancer survivor, the last thing that I want or need in my body is more radiation.  The RAI (Radioactive Iodine  – also known as I-131) was more than enough for me, thank you.  I know that there is radiation in the x-rays, but didn’t know how much. 

Knowledge is Power!  I have the means to find out and educate myself on radiation.  And that is what I did.  I started with the FDA site and found an article called “Reducing Radiation for Medical X-rays” that had tons of information.  I didn’t know the specifics about x-rays until I read it in the FDA article.  It said “X-rays are a form of electromagnetic radiation that can penetrate clothing, body tissue, and internal organs. An X-ray machine sends this radiation through the body. Some of the radiation emerges on the other side of the body, where it exposes film or is absorbed by a digital detector to create an image. And some of it is absorbed in body tissues. It is the radiation absorbed by the body that contributes to the “radiation dose” a patient gets.”

The FDA also had this short video on their site about radiation and x-rays:

The more research I found, the more concerned I got.  Advancements in technology are leading to new kinds of scanners, like the cone-beam CT scanner used at many dental offices.  According to the NY Times article Radiation Worries for Children in Dentists’ Chairs, “Some states have in effect no inspections of dental X-ray units,” said Dr. G. Donald Frey, professor of radiology at the Medical University of South Carolina and a past president of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine. While inspectors generally evaluate machine performance, few attempt to measure the overall radiation risk to the patient’s organs.  “States tend not to want to regulate the practice of medicine or dentistry,” Dr. Frey said.

The real “jaw dropper” was the video called “The Price of a Smile” posted by the NY Times.   This video digs a little deeper into some of the new technology embraced by some dentists and orthodontists.  It really makes you wonder if money has become more important than health.  Here is the video:  http://video.nytimes.com/video/2010/11/22/us/1248069363524/the-price-of-a-smile.html

My vision for this post was to share information on radiation and x-rays used in the dental profession as well as other medical professions.  However, after reading a few articles and watching a couple short videos on the dental industry’s use of x-rays and scans, I found more than I expected.  It was more than I wanted to be “exposed” to. 

As for my dental visit, I was never even asked to have any x-rays done.  I had them over a year ago, but they did not see the need for them during my visit.  Go figure!  (Oh and I’m happy to report no cavities.) 

~ I’m grateful to be a ThyCa survivor ~ I’m grateful to be a ThyCa survivor ♥ ~ I’m grateful to be a ThyCa survivor ~ ♥ ~ I’m grateful to be a ThyCa survivor ~ I’m grateful to be a ThyCa survivor ~ My parotid gland still hurts when I eat from the RAI (RadioActive Iodine). I get small bits of food caught in my throat at times. My vocal chords are still a little damaged from the thyroidectomy. My fear wakes up every 6 months when I go for follow-up scans and blood work. I get hot flashes and chills now more than ever. My memory is not was it was before. So I need to remind myself, despite it all. I FOUGHT THE FIGHT. I AM A CANCER SURVIVOR and THRIVER!!!  AND FOR THAT, I AM SO GRATEFUL!!
I’m going for my ThyCa ultrasound scan later today. The cycle of fearful thoughts are waking up in my mind.  They overpower me at times.  I wish there was a volume button, so I could put the negative ones on mute!  The thoughts are spinning around over and over.  The typical ones are…What if the cancer came back? What if it spread? Will I need another operation? I don’t want to go through the LID and RAI again. When will this end? Will I be able to get through the cancer battle again?  Am I a burden on friends and family?  When will I get the results?
One after another, the thoughts pop into my mind.  The reality is that I am taking care of myself and going for my regular follow-up visits, blood work and scans. I’m taking my medicine.  I talk about how I feel good and not so good. I blog about it, which helps.  I get helpful comments from my readers and that fills my spirit.
At this moment, I am a cancer SURVIVOR!! All of the thought are simply thoughts.  They are not reality.  I don’t have to give them power. The rest is unknown, fear of the unknown. So for now, I will stay in the present moment.  Yeah, that feels much better. I just needed to adjust my mind.  Ah, a sigh of relief. Calmness washes over me.

Awesome News!!! My blood test results show my Tg level was undetectable after the thyrogen shots! This means I am still cancer -free!! Oh yeah!! That’s right!! Thanks for the prayers and much appreciated support!! (Happy Dance)

What a difference a week makes. Last week was shots, blood work, fear and praying.  Fast forward it a week after I got the results and I’m at ease.  I can go on and live my life with all of this behind me.  Sure there will be another follow-up test in 6 months, but that is a long ways away.  There is no point in thinking about it.  I am focusing on the here and now.  That is where life happens!!

To all cancer survivors (including people newly diagnosed, battling cancer and going through treatment), continue to reach out for help, put one foot in front of the other and fight the fight!! You never know what tomorrow will bring, so be grateful for the blessings you have today!!

Knowledge is power. One important thing I’ve learned during my journey down the cancer road is that I am my advocate for my health.  I am the one responsible for asking the questions and doing my homework.  There is no such thing as too much information and knowledge when it comes to cancer.

The medical field is constantly making changes to guidelines, procedures, recommended medications and more. Our doctors should be up to date on this information, but many of them are not.  Find the ones that are current on what is going on in the medical field.  As a patient and cancer survivor, it is also my responsibility to make sure that I learn all that I can about my medical condition.

As a thyroid cancer patient, I read things like the Revised American Thyroid Association Management Guidelines for Patients with Thyroid Nodules and Differentiated Thyroid Cancer and tried to stay awake while doing it.  There is a lot of good information in there.  I suggest you skim over it if you have been touched by thyroid cancer.

This is just one example.  There is a world-wide web of information out there.  Be sure to do your research on reputable sites.  Unfortunately there is a lot of bad information and fear-based opinions out there as well.  I found that when I stay on professional sites, I get the beneficial information that give me the knowledge that I need.

As a cancer survivor, I get to go back for follow-up doctor visits, blood work, scans and more every six months.  Here we go again!  I got the blood work done yesterday.  Tomorrow I go to have my ultrasound scan after work.  Then I have an appointment with my doctor to go over the results at the end of next week.  Deja Vu!!

I’m getting the hang of it now.  The fear seems to lessen each time.  I’ve learned that worrying and negative thinking does not do me any good mentally, spiritually or physically.  (It reminds me of this quote I found.  “Worry is a huge waste of time; it doesn’t change anything, except maybe your blood pressure!” ~Author Unknown)

Trust me, I can list many other things that I would rather do with my time then getting more tests, scans and sitting in doctors offices.  But the reality is that I need to continue to be responsible for my health be doing these things. In turn, I am able to live a healthy life and free from cancer.